United States Census, 1790 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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Contents

Record Description

The collection consists of an index to the population schedules listing the inhabitants of the United States in 1790. This was the first national census conducted in the United States. This index is provided by Ancestry.com.

The schedules for some counties are missing in the 1790 census and no schedules are known to exist for the following states in 1790:

  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • New Jersey
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia.

This census (1790) provides names for heads of household, for about 10 to 15 percent of the population, and provide only a number count for the others.

Record Content

The 1790 census includes the following information:

  • State, county and city in which census was taken
  • Name of head of household/family
  • Number of free white males 16 years and older
  • Number of free white males 16 years and under
  • Number of free white females 16 years and older
  • Number of free white females 16 years and under
  • Number of all other persons living in household
  • Number of slaves in each household

How to Use the Record

To begin your search it would be helpful to know:

  • Your ancestor's name
  • Some other identifying information such as where they lived or their age.

Search the Collection

To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.

You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination.

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

Keep in mind

  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use the age categories to determine an approximate birth date range.
  • Use the residence to locate other records such as land, probate, tax, and church records.


General Information About These Records

Federal census takers were asked to record information about every person who was in each household on the census day, which was the first Monday in August for 1790. A census taker might have visited a house on a later date, but the information he collected was supposed to be about the people who were in the house on the census day. The basic census enumeration unit was the county. Each county was divided into enumeration districts, one for each enumerator. The completed forms were sent to the Commerce Department’s Census Office in Washington, D.C.

Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.

Population schedules consisted of large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules were arranged by place, such as township or post office. The places were not filed in any particular order. The arrangement of families on a schedule is normally in the order in which the enumerator visited the households. The original schedules are well preserved at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. They were microfilmed in the 1950s and 1960s. The schedules for some counties in varying censuses are missing.


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Don't overlook FHL Place United States items or FHL Keyword United States items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see United States Archives and Libraries.

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Contributions to This Article

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Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org. Source citations include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

"United States Census, 1790." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing "1790 United States Federal Census." Ancestry.com. www.ancestry.com : 2010.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 10 September 2014, at 21:53.
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